Tag Archives: location

Image Is Important

There was a time when you would see a shop owner sweeping the sidewalk in front of the store before opening for the day.  The reason was simple:  Image.

Customers care about the image of the businesses they patronize.  Why would they purchase the same jeans from a discount store when there’s a certain prestige in saying you got them at a higher end store?  Image.  The owners of a business should also care about their image for that same reason – because it’s important to their customers and prospective customers.  Think about it.

Would you eat at this restaurant if you saw how the kitchen looked?

Would you eat at this restaurant if you saw how the kitchen looked?

Would you patronize a fast food restaurant if wrappers, napkins, and straws littered the floor whenever you stopped in?  Would you be a regular at a grocery store where the produce section displayed rotten tomatoes or moldy fruit?  How about a machine shop where it looked like the floor hadn’t been swept in a month?

The inside appearance of a business is important for building brand loyalty.

Would you feel more confident if the kitchen looked like this one?

Would you feel more confident if the kitchen looked like this one?

The image your business conveys to the public on the outside, including in your brand identity, logo, and your advertising, is even more critical to the long-term success of your business and your brand.

If you have  a delivery or service vehicle with signage that advertises your business, how does it look?  Is the paint or decal faded?  Is the vehicle showing some rust or have a few dents?  What does that tell your customers?  Any lights out in your neon sign?  Are you flying a faded, tattered American flag?  Are veterans one of your market segments?

Do you showcase your location in your ads?  Are you proud of what your building looks like?  Take an objective look at your website.  Does it convey the kind of image you want people to have of your products and/or services?  Think about the last time it was updated.

Your website, like your place of business, should convey an image that gives your customers the confidence to send their family, friends, and referrals to you so they can become customers as well.

It’s often the little things that make a huge difference when it comes to the image your business conveys to the public and your customers.  What message does it convey to shoppers coming to your grocery store if there are no carts available because they’re scattered around the parking lot?  Yes, rounding up the carts and returning them to the corral is a menial task for some employee, especially if it’s raining, but those carts are usually the first contact those consumers have with your business.

If you’re not sure what the first impression is that people have of your business, try first to visit it impartially – as though you were a client yourself.  What’s the feeling you get?  Think about engaging a consulting firm such as Brand Irons to find that out.  First blush is one measure, but that impression may go much deeper and require talking to your customers about why they patronize your business.

Something as simple as sweeping the floors could enhance business.  Think about it.

Brand Your Work – Work Your Brand

Where Is Your Business?

Where is your business?

Two reasons we bring this up:  1) It’s important for your customers and prospects to be able to find your business; and, 2) It’s important for you to know where your business is in the cycle of life for a business such as yours.  Make that three reasons:  3) It’s critical that you know how your business is doing from the consumer’s perspective, which ties in closely with customer service.  Are you doing the right things to take care of customers and bring them back frequently?

#1 refers to your location, whether it’s the physical plant or your place in cyberspace.  You need to make it easy for people to find you, either through optimizing your search engine position and social media or providing clarity as to your physical location.  If your business is at the corner of a major intersection in town, just off the highway, or conveniently located next to a city park, use your advertising to tell people that’s where you are.

The focus of this blog, though, is on #2 – where your business is in its life cycle.

A typical graphic of a business life cycle.

A typical graphic of a business life cycle.

At left is one of hundreds of diagrams that try to explain the cycles a business typically goes through during its existence.

This example may seem foreign if you’re unfamiliar with Smith-Corona, which was one of the top brand names for typewriters in the days before computers.  When you think about a company that had a dominant role in the typewriter business and look at the life cycle diagram in that context, it is rather obvious why Smith-Corona disappeared from sight.  The company had grown and expanded to a position of maturity in the typewriter marketplace, but failed to make the transition when the new technology of computers entered the picture.  Transitions can be brutal, especially when most people and a majority of companies tend to resist change.

Take the time to think about your business.  This is always a good exercise.  It forces you to work on your business by thinking about where you are instead of remaining immersed in the day-to-day ennui that can stifle the growth or expansion cycle.  Do you consider your business to be on an upswing, or have things stabilized and stayed fairly steady?  Do you enjoy a high percentage of repeat business from the same customers or do you have a steady influx of new customers?  Are you unsure where you are because you’ve only been in business a year or two?

Have you grown as much as you can and now sales and production seem to have stagnated?  The question you may ask if you’ve reached this cycle is “Now what do we do?”  This is an excellent position for bringing in an outside consultant to examine and explore options.  They might help you discover that a simple change in your existing product line or offering a similar but slightly different service can re-energize sales and bump up production for an additional boost.  They might also find that what you’ve been doing for x number of years is out of style and an entirely new direction is needed.

Take those recommendations, whatever they might be, with a modicum of caution.  Weigh the costs of re-tooling and re-branding your business to make sure the change makes sense.  Change for the sake of change is rarely worth it, since change is constant anyway.

Here’s a big question:  What are your plans for getting out of the business?  Do you have an exit strategy in place?  Are you like a great many dreamers who insist that their business is their retirement plan and when they’re ready to retire, they’ll sell the business and live off the profits?  Think about that for a minute … or longer and do something about it before it’s too late.

We counselled a client with that mindset and talked frankly about the potential for that strategy to do what they anticipated it would to let them retire.  A buyer would have little interest in their facility unless the new owner was looking to first enter the marketplace and had yet to establish a base of operations.  If the buyer did have a facility, the interest level would be less.  The same would hold true for the equipment, machines, and tools which become antiquated the longer they have been in use.  Even employees, unless they’re willing to move, may be written out of a purchase agreement.

What the potential buyer has the most interest in is the customer base!

Lots to think about as you continue through the process of evaluating your company’s position in its life cycle.  When you need an independent party to help you through the process, contact Brand Irons at 920.366.6334.